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Detroit Metro Area Legal Blog

Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents' Stuff

Advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms

By Richard Eisenberg

After my father died at 94 in September, leaving my sister and me to empty his one-bedroom, independent living New Jersey apartment, we learned the hard truth that others in their 50s and 60s need to know: Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents - not even you or your kids.

Admittedly, that's an exaggeration. But it's not far off, due to changing tastes and homes. I'll explain why, and what you can do as a result, shortly.

The Stuff of Nightmares

So please forgive the morbidity, but if you're lucky enough to still have one or more parents or stepparents alive, it would be wise to start figuring out what you'll do with their furniture, china, crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork and tchotchkes when the mournful time comes. (I wish I had. My sister and I, forced to act quickly to avoid owing an extra months' rent on dad's apartment, hired a hauler to cart away nearly everything we didn't want or wouldn't be donating, some of which he said he'd give to charity.)

Protecting Grandma - Institute of Gerontology tools to fight financial exploitation

By: Leslie Mertz

Will knew something was wrong as soon as he heard his mother's shaky message on his phone. When he got to her apartment, he found her sitting in a chair -- a lost look on her face and a bank statement in her lap. She blinked up at him and in a tiny voice said, "I'm sorry. Your father and I saved and saved, so we could leave something for you and your babies, and now it's all gone. I'm so ashamed."

Will started to go through her records, and saw that someone had repeatedly taken advantage of his mother's trusting nature and slightly slipping mental sharpness, and drained her bank account dry in just three short months. His mind started to spin: How far behind is she in her bills? How will she pay for her living expenses, let alone her medications? Will she have to move out of her house and into his? Can he afford that?

Avoiding mistakes when buying a residential property

Buying a home can be a wonderful step for your family, but purchasing real estate can be an arduous and complicated process. From inspections to transferring the title, there are many steps before you can take ownership and move into your new Michigan home. Due to the complicated and expensive nature of this process, it is important to make every effort to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

What if estate planning benefited you now and later?

Many people delay writing a will. Perhaps it's due to fear of the unknown, or anxiety at the thought of the end of life. It's understandable. You may have thought about what you'd like to happen when you die, but you're afraid to put it in writing because it feels too serious or final. Even if you're middle-aged, you might still be putting it off. Isn't estate planning for "old people"?

Yet for those who haven't yet created a will or living trust, there are a dozen reasons to do so. One way to look at it is that once you take the step, you'll be able to put a lot of worries about the future to rest.

What will happen to your digital afterlife?

In past generations, family members, fiduciaries and other individuals often had to scour through safe-deposit boxes, desks and boxes to gather documents and photos left behind by a loved one. As our culture continues to move further away from paper toward a paperless society, more and more assets and memories are stored in the cloud. Our digital lifestyle has made it vital for individuals to address digital assets in estate planning documents, such as a will and powers of attorney.

Michigan Law Allows You To Define Access To Your Digital Afterlife

Many digital accounts hold assets that may be sentimental in nature, or financially important. In this digital age, Michigan law provides authority under the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADAA). Estate planning attorney Howard H. Collens recently appeared on WXYZ-TV in Detroit to discuss how individuals can address their digital legacies should they become incapacitated or pass away.

Should your estate make room for frozen embryos?

When most people hear the phrase "estate plan," they usually associate the task of allocating assets, assigning executors and beneficiaries, and establishing trusts to elderly folks with money. What is actually the case is that most individuals who have assets benefit from developing an estate plan. In the past, drawing up a list of assets and property could involve cars, sentimental items, a house or money saved in a banking account.

If you have been following our blog, you know that the items that can be included in an estate plan today vary from tangible to the conceptual, located in a deposit box or an online account. Due to the law's ever-evolving recognition of what constitutes an asset, estate plans may need to be updated to reflect the variety of assets an individual possesses. The same can be said for the diverse set of beneficiaries that can be referenced in the documents that constitute an estate plan.

Understanding tax deeds and quiet title actions in Michigan

The residential and commercial real estate markets in Detroit, and throughout Michigan, have been taken on a proverbial roller-coaster ride in recent years. Despite past turmoil, investing in real estate remains a vital interest for homeowners, investors and businesses alike. Protecting financial interests in any real estate investment is critical. With many properties changing hands due to tax liens foreclosure, mortgage foreclosure and multiple investment transactions, the risk of finding a cloud on the title to a specific piece of property is real.

Sales Of Foreclosed and Tax-Forfeited Properties Remain High In Michigan

Sales of tax-forfeited properties and foreclosed properties increased dramatically following the real estate market meltdown in 2007, according to MiBiz. The upward trend has continued, creating an increase in property available through tax auctions each year. Investors, future homeowners and businesses can often purchase real estate at low cost in a tax auction. These transactions, however, can be more complex than a more traditional real estate transaction. Notably, the Foreclosing Governmental Unit (FGU) will typically transfer the property through a quit-claim deed, providing the buyer with whatever title the FGU held - which could include a variety of defects that cloud the title.

Unmarried cohabitating couples face unique estate issues

Unmarried couples who live together in Michigan face a unique set of legal matters related to estate and probate planning. Couples who live together but aren't married may be doing so for a variety of reasons. Usually, these types of couples are younger and do not believe in the institution of marriage, or they are elderly and have a more platonic, financially-centered relationship.

Whatever the reason, unmarried couples are not afforded the same set of estate and probate planning securities as married couples. Although it is rarely cited or enforced, Michigan is one of just a few states where it is technically illegal to cohabitate as an unmarried couple. However, a bill issued in the 2016 legislative session, Senate Bill 896, reached the Senate floor with a recommendation to pass.

Understanding Powers of Attorney in Michigan

No matter how much we try, we cannot predict the future. The best we can do is to prepare for it. If you are at any point unable to manage your assets and affairs, you will want someone in charge of all of these things whom you have chosen and that you know has your best interests in mind. When someone is in the position of legally making decisions on behalf of another, they are known as having power of attorney.

A power of attorney is just a legal document. It provides a person of your choosing with the ability to act in your place should you ever be unable to do so yourself. There are a few forms of a power of attorney and they all have specific roles to perform.

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